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Dave Winer has gone barking mad

I try to stay away from entries entitled “Dave Winer has gone barking mad,” but from time to time I suspect I just won’t be able to avoid it.

Background: Dave got miffed because Lawrence Lessig’s big speech included an exhortation to get off your butts and do something about the political arena. Dave, to be perfectly fair, is in fact fairly active in a scattershot kind of a way. He also deserves applause for his rejection of patents, although he couldn’t have actually patented everything he thinks he could.

However, one of the things intelligent individuals are expected to do is understand the concept of generalizations. There is a difference between saying “Hm, that was a generalization and doesn’t apply to me” and saying “I’m not like that, so he was lying.”

Dave fumed for a few days and finally found an old statement he made regarding Lessig. It was bullshit then, and it is bullshit now. Code is not process, it’s code. Prose has two levels: process and the words themselves. Software has three: the process, the source, and the code.

It’s true that Lessig’s original argument is somewhat inaccurate, in that you can learn from observing the behavior of a program. “Hey, copy and paste are good.” But Lessig wasn’t even making an analogy; he was citing an example. Dave didn’t really read the article very closely.

The problem is that Lessig is speaking from a broad base of theory and a deep understanding of the copyright system, whereas Dave is speaking from the perspective of someone who’s always assumed he’s simply entitled to the rights he sees as universal. Unfortunately, the copyright system is not based on universal rights. It’s based on a contract between the government and the creator. Copyright assumes no inherent right to intellectual property; copyright provides the creator with a right to the creation in return for the creator’s work. It is not a method of protecting an inherent right. (In the US. Europe is different.)

However, all that was fairly mild compared to the current temper tantrum. Dave’s accused Lessig of cluelessness, and buying into the authority of the laws. Which is truly perplexing, because those are the laws that keep me from copying Dave’s software and giving it to all my friends.

But what I think Dave is missing here is that Lessig accepts the authority of the process… which is part of what civil disobedience is all about. Thoreau got a lot wrong, but he did understand that civil disobedience necessarily includes getting arrested.

Finally, today, Dave pointed out that the world does get something in return for his copyright. But gah! He misses the point again! To the degree that Dave choses not to patent his techniques, yes, the world does get something in return. However, that is a choice Dave has made and the copyright system does not oblige him to make that choice! The copyright system protects Dave, and Dave has chosen to eschew a portion of that protection. Good for Dave — but how does that make Lessig’s comments about the system wrong?

Anti-spam tool

Tagging this for later use — it’s an implementation of a newish anti-spam concept, designed for qmail but I believe it could be adapted to procmail fairly easily. I want to let it go through a little user testing before I install it, though.

Young and wealthy

What’s it like, being young and suddenly rich? Hard to imagine, for me at least, particularly if you were poor before. The seminar discussed in that article probably comes four years too late, though; you want to catch the rookies before they hit college, because that’s where the special privileges start.

The techniques the NFL uses to guide these kids are nothing special. Not that different from what you read about in “scared straight” programs. They even bring in a former player and current felon to talk about the hell of prison. What’s interesting to me is the reaction of the rookies. That’s where the sociology is.

Oh, and the advice on women. It reads as abominably sexist, but do I think the NFL is deliberately allowing sexist rhetoric in their training sessions? Or do I think that these guys do get targetted by predatory women?

Turn it around. Do you think rich women get targetted by predatory men?

Weird little view into a very weird little world.

Grunt grunt mod_perl install grunt

Grunt grunt mod_perl install grunt grunt hackery. Man, Apache is a pain in the butt. Anyways, works now. I can’t get the supposedly superfast Movable Type as a handler method to work, but it’s running OK as a CGI, and seems to be marginally faster. I’ll take what I can get and look forward to moving onto the G3.

Street uses

The BBC had an article about interesting multi-region DVD players, which perhaps holds clues about the inevitable clash between the people who make content and the people who make devices to display that content. If DVD manufacturers can’t hold the multi-region line, what are the chances that computer makers will care long-term about Hollywood’s digital rights management demands?

Full Frontal probably goes down

Full Frontal probably goes down as a daring failure, but I can’t fault Soderbergh for experimenting. The problem is mostly that the experiment doesn’t have a center. The cinematographic tricks work well, and the acting is solid. But when all’s said and done, the lines between strata of reality have been blurred to no visible end.

Punches and kisses

Paul Thomas Anderson’s new movie is called Punch-Drunk Love, and is due to hit theaters in October. As per normal for his films, he’s released little information about it — it’s a romantic comedy starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson, and that’s about it.

The site linked above now has three trailers, hiding behind the three words of the title. They are the most non-spoiling trailers I’ve ever seen. Cool stuff. Can’t wait.